RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Since the start of the pandemic, 1,370,5901 North Carolinians have filed for unemployment, according to data from the North Carolina Department of Commerce Division of Employment Security.
Nine months into the pandemic and thousands of people are still out of work. In the last seven days, data shows 41,067 people have applied for unemployment in North Carolina.
“We had a peak unemployment rate in April, around 12 percent,” said Mike Walden, an economist at NC State University. “It’s down officially to about 6 percent, although that’s a little deceptive because that’s not counting people who aren’t looking for work. I think probably the real unemployment rate is 8%.”
With the state beginning a modified stay-at-home order and a nightly curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. on Friday, Walden said it’s likely we’ll continue to see more people out of work.
“We’re in a little soft patch here because of a resurgence of the virus, we now have some additional constraints on activities, particularly this curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. That’s going to inhibit late-night restrauranting [sic] and so forth,” he said.
He added, “I think on their own, people will be a little more reluctant to go out because they hear about the surges, they hear about the increase in cases, the increase in deaths. So, I think we’re going to see a little pullback in the job market at the end of the year, maybe until the beginning of the year.”
Walden said a majority of the jobs lost during the pandemic are face-to-face positions in the hospitality, entertainment, and personal care industries. He said women and people of color are impacted the most.
“We’ve climbed back a little more than half in terms of job loss,” said Walden. “That doesn’t mean all the jobs that were lost are the ones that ended up coming back. We’re having a lot of reshuffling of the job market as businesses try and use fewer people, especially in businesses where there’s a lot of face-to-face contact.”
With a COVID-19 vaccine approved and ready to go in the U.S., Walden is optimistic we’ll see better days in the new year.
“I’m optimistic that once we get past maybe January that we’re gonna see much more optimism, more hiring,” he said. “And as time goes on, that’ll get better as more people get vaccinated.”
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